James Whitelaw was a cartographer who served as Surveyor General of Vermont from 1787 to 1804. In 1796, Whitelaw compiled and published A Correct Map of the State of Vermont From actual Survey… (1796), engraved by Amos Doolittle of New Haven. Whitelaw’s Vermont map represented a major advance over previous maps of the state in its cartographic accuracy. James Wilson, the engraver of the map, learned the basics of engraving from Doolittle, but predominately applied those skills to producing globes after 1810. His first manufactured dated globe is dated 1811. Nonetheless, he is associated with three maps or charts of this early period, including two by Whitelaw. Wilson engraved revisions in the plate of Whitelaw’s Vermont map for a revised edition issued in 1810. In 1813, he engraved Whitelaw’s Map of the Northern part of the United States and the Southern Part of the Canadas (a rare example of which is shown here). Wilson’s only other recorded engraving of the period was also in 1813, the large chart Chronology Delineated to Illustrate the History of Monarchical Revolutions, produced with the assistance of cartographer and engraver Isaac Eddy.
A James Wilson globe should be the cornerstone of any major collection. James Wilson (1763-1855), a Bradford, Vermont, farmer and blacksmith by trade, is the father of American globe making. Wilson was the first American to manufacture globes, having been inspired by European globes he saw at nearby Dartmouth College. A self-taught geographer and engraver, he not only made the globe spheres but designed, engraved and printed the cartographic gores for them. Wilson began his business in Bradford in about 1810 and in 1815 moved to New York State, opening a larger and better-equipped globe manufacturing facility at 110 Washington Street in Albany. In 1817, his eldest son Samuel joined the business and the following year, his son John became a primary partner with his father. Another son, David Wilson worked briefly in the family business, designing a three-inch globe. The firm of J. Wilson & Sons quickly became known as a globe making family enterprise. Cyrus Lancaster, a graduate of Dartmouth College and a school instructor, joined the firm in 1827. Following the deaths of Samuel and John Wilson, Lancaster continued as business manager, and two years later became a member of the family, marrying Samuel’s widow, Rebecca. Lancaster produced a number of globes in Albany under the Wilson name, the last dated one in 1845.
Full publication credits: Engraved by James Wilson Bradford Vt 1813
Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, with light remaining and toning and wear. Backed on Japanese tissue for support and also to restore a few minor short marginal tears.
“Map of the Northern Part of the United States and the Southern Part of the Canadas.” Lilly Library. 2019. http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/images/item.htm?id=http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/lilly/VAC2587/VAC2587-00009 (6 April 2020).
Meader, Lewis H. “The Council of Censors in Vermont.” Proceedings of the Vermont Historical Society, October 18 and November 2, 1898. Burlington, Vermont: Free Press Association Printers, 1899. p. 113. Online at Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=pXs9AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA4-PA113 (6 April 2020).
Ristow, Walter W. American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985. pp. 89, 278-279.